5 Tips for the Beginner Blogger

You’ve been thinking about making a change. To your job, to your passion, to your location. Maybe you’ve been thinking about going solo, being your own boss for a change! Pick your own hours, pay, and whatnot. Who wouldn’t want that?! The truth is, though all of the above is possible, it takes a lot of work!! If you agreed with any of the above statements, have you thought about giving blogging a try? It’s fun, it’s rewarding, it’s satisfying! Trust me, guys, this blog has been such a fun project for me that has saved me from falling off the deep end a few times! So, if you’re thinking yes, keep reading. I can help you!

Recently, some of you lovely readers have been asking me for advice to start blogging. When I first started getting these questions, I thought to myself: “I just started, I’m still learning! I couldn’t possibly teach you anything yet!” Then, I realized, aren’t we all in that boat? Even the veteran bloggers who have been around for years still have tricks to learn. That’s part of blogging because the internet changes so much, and audiences change so much. We, as bloggers, cannot just leave things the same. We have to adapt to these changes. That is why I decided to write this post. I have learned a few things so far that I would like to share with you.

Hosting

Let’s be honest here. Hosting is terrifying because it is a huge step to take, but if you have any desire to make money off your blog, you need to pay for hosting. I know what you are thinking. You don’t want to spend the money. I get it. I was in that boat for a very long time, and it stopped me from starting this blog for over a year. Lots of people will recommend Blue Host, but I use Site Ground because it was slightly cheaper than Blue Host, which was a huge plus for me! Most importantly, there team has been a HUGE help to me personally, no matter how many times I had to ask questions! Plus, I got a free email account and domain name with their hosting plan! (You can click on this link now to get hosting for only $3.95 a month!)

              I know it is a scary step, but it will open so many doors for you that you can’t even imagine right now.

WordPress

For the design of your website, I swear by WordPress because I have tried Wix and Weebly, and WordPress is just so much easier to navigate and does so much more! Besides, WordPress makes it easy to set up a domain name. Some of you have asked me about the design of my website. I have not paid for the theme because the one that fit my blog the best was free. (WordPress has a ton of awesome free themes!) You can buy one if a free one does not meet your needs. As a rule of thumb, look for what fits your blog the best. If a free one fits the design, then get the free one. If there isn’t, BUY ONE! Impressions are everything, guys, and it is worth the money to buy a theme if it pairs better with your blog than a free one does.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Guys, I cannot stress this enough. Frankly, I didn’t know there was a difference until I started All My Dreams and Journeys, but it makes a huge difference. If you have any intentions to monetize your blog, you have to use WordPress.org. This version is built for that, for paid hosting and domains. It also makes it much easier to keep track of how your blog is doing.

Are courses worth it?

They absolutely are!! I have learned so much from the courses I have taken. Yes, some of them cost money, but they were worth every penny I spent. If you are looking for some good ones, I can recommend Alex & Lauren over at Create & Go. They have a huge variety of courses, from broad ones to focused ones. They are a major talent, and they know what they are talking about! Their Pinterest course has helped me in starting out so much!

Content?

Admittedly, this one is tricky because there are so many variables that I can’t account for for you. What do I write about? What medium should I use? There are so many concerns when it comes to content, but the best advice I can offer you is do your research. Make a list of topics you would be interested in writing about, and then research it. Find out what people are looking for. Then, satisfy that need in a way only you can. I recommend starting out with five to ten topics already posted to your blog before you launch.

Marketable Content?

              Another question I have seen involving content is “Do I need to have something to sell right away?” My answer would be no. For the first month or two, focus on getting a following. If you already have an e-book or a course, then by all means, put it up on your site. The reality of this situation is a lot like the chicken and the egg. Which came first? You need a following to successfully sell a product but having a product to sell also makes it easier to get a following. At the end of the day, you just have to decide what the best course of action for your niche is. If you are not sure what you could sell, look into affiliate marketing. It still involves selling, but it takes the pressure off you to create your own product.

              These are only five tips that I have picked up on in the last few months. I hope this helps, and I encourage you to take the plunge. Live your life your way! It is too short to live it any other way. I still have a lot more learning to do, so stay in touch. I’ll pass along any more tips I get!

              Happy blogging!

Why You Should Never Hit Delete

As writers, we tend to flit from one idea to the next. We fill notebook after notebook with all these wonderful ideas that hit us like a lightning bolt, but unless we live to be a hundred, rarely are all those ideas ever brought to life. Then, we start to second guess ourselves. We look back and see nothing but garbage, so we get rid of it. But I’m going to tell you something, and I want you to listen very closely when I do.

WRITERS SHOULD NEVER HIT DELETE!

Last week, I was flipping through old files and notebooks that I haven’t even thought about since I was a freshman in high school. They were filled with opening lines of dozens of different novels that I started randomly whenever an idea occurred to me. You see, when I was in school, I didn’t know how to focus on one project. I would work on two or three novels at a time and write in whichever one I was inspired to at the time. I carried multiple composition notebooks in my backpack at all times, and I would flit back and forth between novels constantly.

Now, do you have any idea how many of those notebooks contained full novels? Three. Yes, three out of more than ten composition notebooks held an actual novel. Those three included the first draft of my now published novel, Broken Halo, the first novel I ever wrote, titled An Unexpected Romance, and the first mystery thriller I ever attempted to write, called Love and Lies. The other notebooks ranged in length, from a few pages to a few sentences, and as I flipped through them, all of those ideas I had came flooding back to me.

That is what I want to teach you today: why you should never hit delete. It sounds trivial, and some of you may already abide by this, but it hit me that sometimes we overlook the treasure trove that rests in the past.

I will be the first to tell you that my first manuscript was utterly atrocious. Seriously, I won’t even let anyone read it anymore. Now, at the time that I wrote it, I thought it was phenomenal. I was so proud of it, and I would shove it at anyone who would take long enough to read through it. Luckily for me, no one told me it was terrible and discouraged me from pursuing my writing further; instead, they gave me feedback and helped me develop my skill. Now, when I read that first manuscript, I want to vomit, but that is only because I have improved in the near decade it has been since I wrote that novel. But that near decade has also given me more insight into the ideas I had back then.

Last week, while I was cleaning out my closet, I found my own treasure trove of ideas.

Now, you may be skeptical, wondering what on earth those terrible ideas could possibly offer to you now. But the human brain works in fascinating ways. When you put creative stimuli in front of it, like say, old unfinished plotlines you haven’t thought about in a decade, it starts cranking out ideas. As I sat there reading through the cringeworthy writing of a twelve-year-old Sheridan, I couldn’t stop coming up with ideas. I was back in those worlds I’d created in my adolescence, back with the friends I had forgotten about, and I was itching to pen their stories.

So, what’s next? If you keep all of your ideas, how on earth do you keep focused on one project at a time? Trust me, it is going to be tricky. (This is not to discount the method of working on multiple projects. If you can effectively do that, go for it and know that I bow to you, because your brain clearly functions much better than mine!) You are going to want to go back to those other ideas. So how do you stop yourself from doing that?

First, you must choose wisely. You need to take a minute and ask yourself which project you are most excited to pursue. You will stifle your creativity if you force yourself to work on another project. Then, remind yourself that it is okay to have multiple ideas at a time.

Buy yourself a notebook!! This is serious, guys, and again, some of you might already have one, but a notebook for ideas is a necessity. Jot down any idea that comes your way, along with as many details as you can, so that when you are ready to pursue that idea, you have plenty to go off of to get your juices flowing again. Buy multiple notebooks, if you would like, so that no matter where you are, you have somewhere to write down your ideas.

Finally, don’t ever get rid of those old manuscripts or notebooks. They may seem terrible now, but if you put enough work into them, you could make them phenomenal! If you’re a techie, organize them into a file on your desktop. If you’re old-school, buy a box to put them in and keep them somewhere easily accessible. Allow yourself to go back to them every once in awhile to find your creativity again and remind yourself that you are talented! Besides, you never know when an old idea might be exactly what you need for your current project. Take it from me, it tends to happen when you least expect it. Hitting delete could be terminal one day, so avoid it while you can and reap the rewards of decades-old ideas you gave up on. Sometimes, they age like fine wine.